M-78 (NGC-2068) A bright diffuse nebula located in the constellation of Orion, about 2.3 degrees NE of Zeta
Orionis, the easternmost of the 3 "Belt Stars" in Orion. It is part of the Orion Molecular Cloud Complex and lies about 1600 light years from Earth and is 10 light years in extent. It is a reflection nebula, illuminated by the bright blue-white stars within it. It was discovered by Pierre Mechain in 1780 and included by Charles Messier in his catalog of comet-like objects that same year.
This image, acquired on December 17, 2012, is a 1 hour integration of 4 minute exposures through the Celestron C-11 at f/2, using the HyperStar III imaging system and the Starlight Express SXVR-H694C color CCD camera, operating at -10 degrees below ambient temperature and binned 1 X 1. Guided, captured and combined using Maxim DL5 Pro. Post processed using PhotoShop CS2, Gradient XTerminator, Carboni's Astro Tools and NoiseWare.